The day has arrived. Can’t you just feel the excitement ... or nerves? Draft day encompasses it all when that time comes with your team on the clock.
Who are the New York Giants going to draft with the 23rd overall selection? An offensive weapon to help Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.? The speedy, rangy, super-athletic linebacker that has eluded them for the past decade? Or maybe someone will unexpectedly fall into their lap (think Prince Amukamara, 2011).
There are so many possibilities in perhaps the most unpredictable draft in years. Let’s run through some of the scenarios:
The O.J. Howard dream
Close your eyes for a minute and just think of the possibilities of adding a dominant, complete tight end to an offense that already has Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard at wide receiver. That could be special. Alabama’s O.J. Howard is that tight end. The only problem is that he has almost no chance to make it to pick 23. Not even close. But let’s dream for a second. Let’s just say that Howard is available at 15 (unlikely, but not out of the question). Would the Giants trade their first- and third-round picks to move up and grab him? I think it’s possible. He’s really high on their board and would perfectly marry need with best player available. This is the dream Giants scenario. Howard is also the only player they should trade up to take.
The QB quandary
It will be interesting to see when the run on quarterbacks begins in this draft. There is already buzz about Deshaun Watson and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Then there are teams like the Chargers, Bills, Cardinals and, of course, the Browns (every year) that might be in the mix for QBs. The Giants are on the fringe of that group with Manning turning 37 this season. It will prompt a conversation if Mitchell Trubisky, Watson or Patrick Mahomes are there at No. 23. Trubisky has no chance of being there. The other two? Maybe. Coach Ben McAdoo is believed to be high on Mahomes, and Watson has intangibles that some believe will translate to the NFL. Ultimately, I don’t think the Giants would pull the trigger, but it would be an interesting discussion in that war room.
This is Jerry Reese’s 11th draft as general manager. Is it the first where he trades back in any round? He has never (NEVER!) traded back during the 71 times the Giants were on the clock. But if he decides to throw the ultimate curveball, this would be the draft. It's considered especially deep. The talent differential at pick 23 or 34 is not believed to be significant. It’s more a matter of flavor. To each their own. The Giants could trade down and still possibly land, say, Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham early in the second round. Some might prefer Cunningham to Florida’s Jarrad Davis anyway.
The strength of this draft is at cornerback. Six cornerbacks in the first round is entirely possible, which puts the Giants in an interesting position with the 23rd pick. They could be on the clock and the top player on their board – for the second straight year – might be a cornerback. USC’s Adoree' Jackson or LSU’s Tre’Davious White might be sitting there, calling to be the choice. Would the Giants pull the trigger? My gut says in the right scenario, yes, they would, even though they’re heavily invested on the outside with Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple, and with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie still on the roster. You can never have too many cornerbacks. Reese knows that. It was only a few years ago that he was being asked about an overflow at the position. Several months later he had Jayron Hosley and Trumaine McBride on the field logging significant playing time. Keep the cornerback scenario in the back of your mind depending on how the draft plays out. Jackson can play in the slot, return punts and even help on offense. If necessary, he could be the 2017 Eli Apple.
The favorites for 23
All that noise will drive you crazy this time of the year. It’s unbearable the morning of the draft. I’m sticking to my guns, though. It’s imperative to trust what you heard throughout the process, not just at lying time. So I’m sticking with linebacker Jarrad Davis or offensive lineman Garett Bolles as the most likely selections for the Giants at No. 23. Davis is an athletic linebacker who can do it all, including cover. Bolles is an athletic left tackle with dancing bear feet and the mindset that allows him to finish off defenders. If both were on the board, it would be a tough decision for the Giants, who think highly of each player. My best guesstimate is that with similar grades, Bolles would win out. The need of offensive tackle would nudge him ahead of Davis.